self direction, copy protection part II (long)

Discussion in 'Junky's Jungle' started by GodEater, Jan 23, 2001.

  1. GodEater

    GodEater Well-Known Member

    Here you go kids. Here's some information overload
    that is apropos of the discussion found <a href=>here</a>

    When you get to the end re-read the last paragraph
    carefully. It is fairly important as questions


    19 January 2001


    Cc: Ron Rivest <>,
    Subject: What's Wrong With Content Protection
    Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2001 17:06:07 -0800
    From: John Gilmore <>

    Ron Rivest asked me:

    > I think it would be illuminating to hear your views on the
    > differences between the Intel/IBM content-protection proposals
    > and existing practices for content protection in the TV
    > scrambling domain. The devil's advocate position against your
    > position would be: if the customer is willing to buy extra, or
    > special, hardware to allow him to view protected content, what is
    > wrong with that?

    There is nothing wrong with allowing people to optionally choose to buy copy-protection products that they like.

    What is wrong is when people who would like products that simply record bits, or audio, or video, without any copy protection, can't find any, because they have been driven off the market. By restrictive laws like the Audio Home Recording Act, which killed the DAT market. By "anti-circumvention" laws like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which EFF is now litigating. By Federal agency actions, like the FCC deciding a month ago that it will be illegal to offer citizens the capability to record HDTV programs, even if the citizens have the legal right to. By private agreements among major companies, such as SDMI and CPRM (that later end up being "submitted" as fait accompli to accredited standards committees, requiring an effort by the affected public to derail them). By private agreements behind the laws and standards, such as the unwritten agreement that DAT and MiniDisc recorders will treat analog inputs as if they contained copyrighted materials which the user has no rights in. (My recording of my brother's wedding is uncopyable, because my MiniDisc decks act as if I and my brother don't own the copyright on it.)

    Pioneer New Media Technologies, who builds the recently announced recordable DVD drive for Apple, says "The major consumer applications for recordable DVD will be home movie editing and storage and digital photo storage". They carefully don't say "time-shifting TV programs, or recording streaming Internet videos", because the manufacturers and the distribution companies are in cahoots to make sure that that capability NEVER REACHES THE MARKET. Even though it's 100% legal to do so, under the Supreme Court's _Betamax_ decision. Streambox built software that let people record RealVideo streams on their hard disks; they were sued by Real under the DMCA, and took it off the market. According to Nomura Securities, DVD Recorder sales will exceed VCR sales in 2004 or 2005, and also exceed DVD Player-only sales by 2005. So by 2010 or so, few consumers will have access to a recorder that will let them save a copy of a TV program, or time-shift one, or let the kids watch it in the back of the car. Is anyone commenting on that social paradigm shift? Do we think it's good or bad? Do we get any say about it at all?

    Instead, consumers will have to pay movie/TV companies over and over for the privilege of time-shifting or space-shifting. Even if they have purchased the movie, and it's stored at home on their own eqiupment, and they have high bandwidth access to it from wherever they are. This concept is called "pay per use". It can't compete with "You have the right to record a copy of what you have the right to see". These companies can't eliminate that right legally, because it would violate too many of the fundamentals of our society, so they are restricting the technology so you can't EXERCISE that right. In the process they ARE violating the fundamentals on which a stable and just society is based. But as long as society survives until after they're dead, they don't seem to care about its long-term stability.

    What is wrong is when companies who make copy-protecting products don't disclose the restrictions to the consumers. Like Apple's recent happy-happy web pages on their new DVD-writing drive, announced this month It's full of glowing info about how you can write DVDs based on your own DV movie recordings, etc. What it quietly neglects to say is that you can't use it to copy or time-shift or record any audio or video copyrighted by major companies. Even if you have the legal right to do so, the technology will prevent you. They don't say that you can't use it to mix and match video tracks from various artists, the way your CD burner will. It doesn't say that you can't copy-protect your OWN disks that it burns; that's a right the big manufacturers have reserved to themselves. They're not selling you a DVD-Authoring drive, which is for "professional use only". They're selling you a DVD-General drive, which cannot record the key-blocks needed to copy-protect your OWN recordings, nor can a DVD-General disc be used as a master to press your own DVDs in quantity. These distinctions are not even glossed over; they are simply ignored, not mentioned, invisible until after you buy the product.

    It isn't just Apple who is misleading the consumer; it's epidemic. Sony portable mini-disc recorders only come with digital INPUT jacks, never digital OUTPUTS. Sound checks in -- but only checks out in low-quality analog formats. Intel touts the wonders of their TCPA (Trusted Computing Platform Architecture). You have to read between the lines to discover that it exists solely to spy on how you use your PC, so that any random third party across the Internet can decide whether to "trust" you -- the owner. TCPA isn't about reporting to YOU whether you can trust your own PC (e.g. whether it has a virus), it doesn't include that function. It exists to report to record companies about whether you have installed any software that lets you make copies of MP3s, or any free software to circumvent whatever feeble copy-protection system the record company uses. Intel is pushing HDCP (High Definition Content Protection) which is high speed hardware encryption that runs only on the cable between the computer and its CRT or LCD monitor. The only signal being encrypted is the one that the user is sitting there watching, so why is it encrypted? So that the user can't record what they can view! If the cable is tampered with, the video chip degrades the signal to "analog VCR quality".

    Intel is also pushing SDMI and CPRM (Content Protection for Recordable Media) which would turn your own storage media (disk drives, flash ram, zip disks, etc) into co-conspirators with movie and record companies, to deny you (the owner of the computer and the media) the ability to store things on those media and get them back later. Instead some of the stored items would only come back with restrictions wired into the extraction software -- restrictions that are not under the control of the equipment owner, or of the law, but are matters of contract between the movie/record companies and the equipment/software makers. Such as, "you can't record copyrighted music on unencrypted media". If you try to record a song off the FM radio onto a CPRM audio recorder, it will refuse to record or play it, because it's watermarked but not encrypted. Even when recording your own brand-new original audio, the default settings for analog recordings are that they can never be copied, nor ever copied in higher fidelity than CD's, and that only one copy can be made even if copying is ever authorized (if the other restrictions are somehow bypassed). Intel and IBM don't tell you these things; you have to get to Page 11 of Exhibit B-1, "CPPM Compliance Rules for DVD-Audio" on page 45 of the 70-page "Interim CPRM/CPPM Adopters Agreement", available only after you fill out intrusive personal questions after following the link from . All Intel tells you that CPPM will "give consumers access to more music" Lying to your customers to mislead them into buying your products is wrong.

    What is wrong is when scientific researchers are unable to study the field or to publish their findings. Professor Ed Felten of Princeton studied the SDMI "watermarking" systems in some detail, as part of a public study deliberately permitted by the secretive SDMI committee, so they could determine whether the public could crack their chosen schemes. (SDMI would not allow EFF to join its deliberations, saying that we had no legitimate interest in the proceedings because we weren't a music company or a manufacturer. There are no consumer or civil rights representatives in the SDMI consortium.) Prof. Felten was in the New York Times last week, saying the SDMI people and Princeton's lawyers are now telling him that he can't release his promised details on what was wrong with these watermarking systems, because of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It's OK to tell the SDMI companies how easy it is to break their scheme, but it isn't OK to tell the public or other scientific researchers.

    What is wrong is when competitors are unable to build competing devices or software, vying for the favor of the consumers in the free market. Instead those devices are banned or threatened, and that software is censored and driven underground. Such as the open-source DeCSS and LiViD DVD player programs. Such as DVD players worldwide that can play American "Region 1" DVDs. EFF spent more than a million dollars last year in defending the publisher of a security magazine, and a Norwegian teenager, from movie industry attempts to have them censored and jailed, respectively, for publishing and writing competing software that lets DVDs be played or copied but does not follow the restrictive contracts that the movie studios imposed on most players. The movie studios spent $4 million on prosecuting the New York case alone. Few or no manufacturers are willing to put ordinary digital audio recorders on the market -- you see lots of MP3 players but where are the stereo MP3 recorders? They've been chilled into nonexistence by the threat of lawsuits. The ones that claim to record, record only "voice quality monaural".

    What is wrong is when the controls that are enacted to protect the rights reserved under copyright are used for other purposes. Not to protect the existing rights, but to create new rights at the whim of the copyright holder. Movie companies insisted on a "region coding" system for DVDs, because they would make less money if DVD movies were actually tradeable worldwide under existing free-trade laws. (They couldn't charge high theatre ticket prices if the same movie was simultaneously available on DVDs, and they couldn't combine the ad campaigns of the theatres and the DVDs if they waited a long time between releasing it to theatres and releasing it to DVDs.) This system results in the situation where a consumer can buy a DVD player legally, buy a DVD legally, and put the two together, and the movie won't play. The user has every legal right to view the movie, but it won't play, because if it did, movie companies might make less money. Similar controls exist in DVDs to prevent people from fast-forwarding past the ads or those nonsensical "FBI Warnings".

    Microsoft built some deliberately incompatible protocols into Windows 2000 so that competing Unix machines could not be used as DNS servers in some circumstances. Microsoft released a specification but only under an encrypted file format that claimed to require that readers agree not to use the information to compete with them. When someone decrypted the trivial encryption WITHOUT agreeing to the terms, Microsoft threatened to use the DMCA to sue Slashdot, the popular free-software news web site, who published the results. (Luckily for us, Slashdot has a backbone and said "go ahead, we'll defend that suit" and Microsoft chickened out.) Copyright doesn't grant the right to prevent competition, or to restrict global trade -- but somehow the legislation that was enacted to protect copyrights is being used to do just those things.

    What is wrong is when social policy is created in smoke-filled back rooms, between movie/record company executives and computer company executives, not by open public discussion, by legislatures, and by courts. The CPRM specification, for example, allows a distributor of a bag of bits (who has access to software with this capability) to decide that future recipients will not be permitted to make copies of that bag of bits. Or that two copies are permitted, but not three. This policy is not legally enforceable, it was not created by law. The law says something different. But the policy will be enforced by equipment built by all the major manufacturers, because they will be sued by the movie/record companies if they dare to build interoperating equipment that lets consumers make THREE copies, or copies limited only by their legal rights. Is it unexpected that such back-room policies end up favoring the parties who were in the room, at the expense of consumers and the public?

    What is wrong is when the balance between the rights of creators and the rights of freedom of speech and the press is lost. Because any increase in the rights of creators is a DECREASE in the public's right of free speech and publication. Whenever copyrights are extended, the public domain shrinks. The right of criticism, the right to dispute someone else's rendition of the truth, is damaged. The First Amendment gives an almost absolute right to publish; the Copyright clause gives a limited right to prevent publication by others. Any expansion of the right to prevent publication diminishes the right to publish. For example, nothing that was created after 1910 has entered the public domain, because as the years went by, the term of copyright kept getting extended. But the copy-rights created by technological restrictions are not even designed to end. There is nothing in the SDMI or CPRM spec that says, "After 2100 you will be permitted to copy the movies from 1910".

    What is wrong is that a tiny tail of "copyright protection" is wagging the big dog of communications among humans. As Andy Odlyzko pointed out,, see "Content is not king" and "The history of communications and its implications for the Internet"), "The annual movie theater ticket sales in the U.S. are well under $10 billion. The telephone industry collects that much money every two weeks!" Distorting the law and the technology of human communication and computing, in order to protect the interests of copyright holders, makes the world poorer overall. Even if it didn't violate fundamental policies for the long-term stability of societies, it would be the wrong economic decision.

    What is wrong is that we have invented the technology to eliminate scarcity, but we are deliberately throwing it away to benefit those who profit from scarcity. We now have the means to duplicate any kind of information that can be compactly represented in digital media. We can replicate it worldwide, to billions of people, for very low costs, affordable by individuals. We are working hard on technologies that will permit other sorts of resources to be duplicated this easily, including arbitrary physical objects ("nanotechnology"; see The progress of science, technology, and free markets have produced an end to many kinds of scarcity. A hundred years ago, more than 99% of Americans were still using outhouses, and one out of every ten children died in infancy. Now even the poorest Americans have cars, television, telephones, heat, clean water, sanitary sewers -- things that the richest millionaires of 1900 could not buy. These technologies promise an end to physical want in the near future.

    We should be rejoicing in mutually creating a heaven on earth! Instead, those crabbed souls who make their living from perpetuating scarcity are sneaking around, convincing co-conspirators to chain our cheap duplication technology so that it WON'T make copies -- at least not of the kind of goods THEY want to sell us. This is the worst sort of economic protectionism -- beggaring your own society for the benefit of an inefficient local industry. The record and movie distribution companies are careful not to point this out to us, but that is what is happening.

    If by 2030 we have invented a matter duplicator that's as cheap as copying a CD today, will we outlaw it and drive it underground? So that farmers can make a living keeping food expensive, so that furniture makers can make a living preventing people from having beds and chairs that would cost a dollar to duplicate, so that builders won't be reduced to poverty because a comfortable house can be duplicated for a few hundred dollars? Yes, such developments would cause economic dislocations for sure. But should we drive them underground and keep the world impoverished to save these peoples' jobs? And would they really stay underground, or would the natural advantages of the technology cause the "underground" to rapidly overtake the rest of society?

    I think we should embrace the era of plenty and work out how to mutually live in it. I think we should work on understanding how people can make a living by creating new things and providing services, rather than by restricting the duplication of existing things. That's what I've personally spent ten years doing, founding a successful free software support company. That company, Cygnus Solutions, annually invests more than $10 million into writing software, giving it away freely, and letting anyone modify or duplicate it. It funds that by collecting more than $25 million from customers, who benefit from having that software exist and be reliable and widespread. The company is now part of Red Hat, Inc -- which also makes its living by empowering its customers without restricting the duplication of its work. It's no coincidence that the open source, free software, and Linux communities are among the first to become alarmed at copy protection. They are actively making their livings or hobbies out of eliminating scarcity and increasing freedom in the operating system and application software markets. They see the real improvement in the world that results -- and the ugly reactions of the monopolistic and oligopolistic forces that such efforts obsolete.

    Converting the whole world to operate without scarcity is a huge task. Such a large economic shift would take decades to spread through the entire world economy, making billions of new winners and new losers. We will be extremely lucky if by 2030 we are prepared to end scarcity without massive social turmoil, including riots, civil unrest, and world war. If we are to find a peaceful path to an era of plenty, we should be starting HERE AND NOW, transforming the industries we have already eliminated scarcity in -- text, audio, and video. Companies that can't adjust should disappear and be replaced by those who can. As these whole industries learn how to exist and thrive without creating artificial scarcity, they will provide models and expertise for other industries, which will need to change when their own inefficient production is replaced by efficient duplication ten or fifteen years from now. Relying on copy-protection now would send us in exactly the wrong direction! Copy protection pretends that the law and some fancy footwork with industrial cartels can maintain our current economic structures, in the face of a hurricane of positive technological change that is picking them up and sending them whirling like so many autumn leaves.

    This may be a longer discussion than you wanted, Ron, but as you can see, I think there are a lot of things wrong with how copy protection techologies are being foisted on an unsuspecting public. I'd like to hear from you a similar discussion. Being devil's advocate for a moment, why should self-interested companies be permitted to shift the balance of fundamental liberties, risking free expression, free markets, scientific progress, consumer rights, societal stability, and the end of physical and informational want? Because somebody might be able to steal a song? That seems a rather flimsy excuse. I await your response.

    John Gilmore
    Electronic Frontier Foundation


  2. kbcat

    kbcat Well-Known Member

    Just wanted to say--cheers GE. Thanks for a good read. Gives me something to think about. This will certainly influence my decision to go back to school.

  3. Hayai_JiJi

    Hayai_JiJi Well-Known Member

    Yeah a great and interesting read it seems Big Brother really is watching. Although I have a few minor qualms. It just seems to me that certain lazy people too cheap to pay for cd's will say it is O.k. to download them because they are trying to create a utopian society. So since I dont care about the companies but more about the artists that are losing money for being creative because certain aforementioned people are to lazy or cheap to pay for their music. I offer this comprimise if you do download from Napster or anywhere else just send the creator a couple of dollars in the mail.

    Under the surface of the most jaded cynic lies a dissappointed idealist- George Carlin
  4. kbcat

    kbcat Well-Known Member

    I'm more concerned about the fact that we (the VF community) would no longer be able to make MPEGs, AVIs etc., of our matches because we are capturing copyrighted content. That's not the case now, but after reading that piece it looks like it's heading that way. No more really cool vids from God-Eat-God productions :(

  5. Jason Cha

    Jason Cha Well-Known Member

    I don't really care about the policy debate regarding napster and intellectual property. My instinct is that those representing the monied interests are better represented in the legal process, and that concerns me in this arena as it does in many others.

    I do wonder about the tone of this email, however. It leads me to believe that the author has a strong ideological perspective that influences his use of reasoning and data to support his arguments. Naturally all argument is predicated on the perspective of those making them (and reading them), but I do find it useful when the one making the argument does so in a way that expresses a recognition that there are other such perspectives, and that those other perspectives are genuinely believed to be legitimate by those who subscribe to them. I find the strongest arguments are those that not only recognize the legitimacy of the other perspective, but respectfully takes seriously the concerns behind that perspective, and is still able to return with a convincing argument that responds to those concerns.

    I think this criticism is equally levelled at those with the "industry" perspective. While not directly addressing the question at hand, here's some text from a front page article in the January 11, 2001 Wall Street Journal. I believe this text, which expresses the perspective of some on the "industry" side, is equally unconvincing. I suspect many of you will find the article insulting, but there is a real perspective and concern behind it. Whether or not you believe that the policy recommendations stemming from those are the "right" ones, well, I think the concerns behind them must be respected if you want to do something better than just another yelling/fighting match.

    Anyway, on to the text:

    "Nearly as important as the effort to cram more computing power on a chip is the quest to find a way to make money from the Internet. Until it generates profits as well as page views, the Internet won't realize its potential to improve our lives. No profits, no progress.

    Technology soon wil let you buy the right to listen to a song over the Internet in a car, on a PC at work or on a boombox without worrying where you left the CD. That would be nice. But first the music industry must sort out how to charge for that and compensate artists."

    I'd imagine the author of the email that has been quoted would be quite insulted at such a statement. But I'm sure the WSJ writer wouldn't attribute any legitimacy to the argument made by Mr. Gilmore. I suspect both authors were "preaching to the choir" when they formulated these types of arguments. However, I guess I just want to point out that neither side is really listening to the other, and as a result neither side is very effective in convincing me, a relative neutral, much less someone with the opposite perspective of the "rightness" of their views.

    While I'm interested in this, I doubt anyone really cares about the point I'm making. It seems the "positional" approach (for those of you who have studied negotiation) in its many articulations is still the dominant approach used by many.

  6. Guest

    Guest Guest

    lol...I'm currently reading "Getting to Yes" for a negotiation course...oh, the irony

    Scary how often people "stick to their guns" for no other purpose than to defeat the enemy, eh? Interests, not positions!
  7. Chanchai

    Chanchai Well-Known Member

    <blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>

    While I'm interested in this, I doubt anyone really cares about the point I'm making. It seems the "positional" approach (for those of you who have studied negotiation) in its many articulations is still the dominant approach used by many.


    Hey man, your point is a good one and one that should always be considered in any argument. In fact, I would personally say that it was a great contribution to the thread, if not necessary.

    I would like to contribute to the thread and the discussions, but I decided to generally keep quiet on the subject as:
    a) I simply have too much to say on this one
    b) As much as there are exceptions and dillemas and situations, so too are there in my perspectives and thus, they are quite complicated, too time-consuming to explain, and then point c)
    c) For whatever I write, unless I write some HUGE (and we're talking on HUGE ON THE CHANCHAI SCALE WHICH WOULD DWARF THE STARR REPORT--not that I've read that garbage) post, I know for certain that somewhere or another it's not going to be clear enough or even articulate enough to represent my feelings or even "position" on the issue. I'd likely be lumped as for or against and I hate that.

    It's not that I think I'm immune to being misunderstood in my posts, but there are levels of it that I would pray I don't get. An "error tolerance" if you will, error in either understanding what I wanted to say or an error in my expression of it.

    Besides, I've already been mocked at for my post on the topic.

    Anyways, great post man.

  8. GodEater

    GodEater Well-Known Member

    Whew...step away for a day and everyone comes out and
    posts! Very neat.

    I wouldn't wonder about the tone at all. He was asked
    about his views concerning contnet protection and he
    gave them. He wasn't asked to consider the history
    and options of both sides and present them. But I
    agree with you that neither side is really listening
    to the other (with very few exceptions). The reason,
    as I see it, is imbalance of power.

    One end controls much (you mention this yourself when
    you talk about better legal representation on the monied
    side) and one side controls little. Why would the side
    that controls much listen at all? They're convinced
    that they can operate as they've always done and still
    come away a winner (at least within the timeline of their
    own individual comittments). The side that controls
    little has a couple of things going for it that makes it
    become deaf. First, they're leading the "moral" charge
    and there can be no compromise in morality so onward,
    Christian Soldiers! Second, complete structures rarely
    yeild in any way to individual particles. The tiny
    side intuits this through past interactions and does
    not want to operate through proper channels.

    Neither side is really considering the possibility
    for a middle ground and even if they did the ones
    proposing change stand the better chance at getting
    screwed. Will the industry halt production to engage
    in months of debate? Will they pause R&D? Odds are
    they will continue with internal deadlines and
    projections keeping half an eye opened to see where
    things will fall. Then make decisions.

    How stupid is that? On both parts. We are operating
    in a world where huge attention is placed on money and
    what it can accomplish. There has been no real world
    attempt at liberation from that operating state because
    money appears to work (however imperfectly). What this
    means is that anything that requires attention being
    brought to it will likely need an amount of money that
    is directly proportional to the attention being sought.
    And very few people control this amount of money.

    And this brings us back to Us. At the beginning of
    this argument I said that the most real debate occurs
    outside the periphery of influence. The people most
    interested in hashing out and finding real world solutions
    are the ones who will--most likely--not see their work
    go towards anything.

    The largest concern on my part is that almost all of the
    decisions that affect Us will be made without Our consent
    or voice or control. Ever see the protests groups when they
    march or sit because they have exhausted all (or too many)
    options? Seen how pathetically small they are or what types
    of coverage they receive in the news? After a certain amount
    of time has lapsed these protests are usually "moved on".
    by police forces. Protest from the living room. And many
    people do.



Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice